Australian Left Review

Article Title

Schools and Education


Antonio Gramsci


ANTONIO GRAMSCI first gave the notion of hegemony its correct place in marxist theories of the exercise of political control. According to Gramsci, societal power did not rest solely on coercion but on manipulation and consensual agreement between the rulers and the ruled. The exact proportion in which coercion and consensus coexisted depended on which society was examined at which stage of history. He thought that in advanced capitalist societies and transitional societies, like the Italy he examined in the early thirties, the emphasis was more and more on obtaining consensus through manipulation, rather than ruling through coercion. So at least one of his central concerns in his research was to establish and describe just how the rulers of a society manipulated the populace to obtain their agreement in the way society was run. Obviously the indoctrination of the young was very important. Through the type of schooling which existed the rulers could inculcate the values and beliefs necessary for the maintenance of their type of social system. Thus Gramsci was always very interested in the “Questione scolastica” and wrote a number of significant notes on schools and their organisation and their role in the instillation of hegemonic values in his prison notes. Only since 1958 has really significant work on Gramsci’s pedagogical theory been done in Italy and practically nothing has been done outside his name. What follows is a translation of one of his two most important essays on the schooling system.